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Black walnut sales steady in down market

Walnut continues to be a solid seller among domestic hardwoods, both in lumber and slab form.

"I would say it is probably one of our better species," says Christ Groff, a retailer and wholesaler with Groff & Groff Lumber in Quarryville, Pa. "We're selling it to furniture makers and cabinetmakers. Two years ago, it was really strong. It's still going pretty strong, but two years ago we sold more walnut in two years than we did in the previous five.

There is no doubt the economy is having an impact on domestic hardwoods, even on walnut. Loggers aren't logging and sawmills are closing.

"We probably have the lowest inventory of logs we've ever had," says Groff. "We get some decent stuff in, but nobody is logging. The problem is that some of the prices at the finish end are dropping, but it still takes the same amount of money to make it. Guys aren't going to go into the woods and log for the same prices they made in 1980."

Retail prices for 100 bf of kiln-dried, 4/4 Select & Better black walnut, surfaced on two sides, ranged from $5.20 to $6.05/bf in the Northeast; $5.70 to $6.10/bf in the Southeast; $4.75 to $5.50/bf in the Midwest; and $6.75 to $7.25/bf in the West.

— Brian Caldwell

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